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Surprise OSHA inspections uncovered 243 violations

A series of no-notice inspections of construction sites in the Philadelphia area revealed hundreds of worker safety violations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently announced. Around 59 percent of the inspections resulted in a citation for violating safety rules, a rate the agency called "alarmingly high." Such violations could raise the risk of a serious construction accident.

Earlier this year, OSHA inspectors conducted a four-month campaign of surprise inspections in called the "Construction Incident Prevention Initiative." The program involved inspectors arriving at construction sites in the Philadelphia Region without prior notice, presumably so that the contractors in charge of the site would not have time to fix safety problems they had been exposing their workers to in order to avoid a fine. The Philadelphia Region includes portions of three states, including Pennsylvania, plus the District of Columbia.

The majority of the violations uncovered by the inspections involved failure to use anti-fall protection for workers on roofs, failure to ensure that scaffolds are securely built and failure to protect trenches from potential collapse. The potential results of improper roof, scaffold and trench safety are not minor. More than 250 construction workers were killed and more than 10,000 injured in falls in 2010, OSHA reports.

The problem is real in the Philadelphia Region as well. OSHA received reports of 18 construction deaths in the region in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. There were 43 on-the-job fatalities in the region over that time period.

When a construction worker is injured in a fall, he or she could be entitled to workers' compensation to pay for medical bills and lost wages. A workers' compensation attorney could evaluate your case and explain your rights.

Source: OSHA, "OSHA's No-Notice Inspections Expose Multiple Hazards at Construction Sites," Nov. 28, 2012

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